If you sell them, they will come

January 10, 2009
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Jan. 10, 2009 — How do we get plants in more places, beyond the traditional retailers of big box chains, independent garden centres, and florist shops?

Convenience stores are great marketers of plants. I know of a pair of shops in my hometown that do a great job of selling containers in spring, summer and fall. The one store has a great homemade benching system – OK, it's a bunch of 2x4s nailed together, but it does the job. The other retailer sets his/her plants along their storefront in rows two to three containers deep. The plants at both locations are well maintained, probably on par with many garden centres. And the reason they're maintained to these standards, I'm sure, is because these retailers sell a lot of them.

Our youngest daughter lived in the east end of Toronto while finishing her post-secondary studies, and in visiting her (grocery care-package deliveries, small appliance donations, laundry pickups or deliveries, etc.), we would pass a convenience store with the most amazing outdoor display of plant material, on the sidewalk and on benches.

My wife and I recently picked up our oldest daughter and grandson from Terminal One of Toronto International Airport, two-thirds of the Langenburg, Saskatchewan, branch of the family. (Our son-in-law flew in a few days later.) On one side of the Arrivals doors was, of course, a Tim Horton's location. (Our hometown hospital has two Tim Horton's locations, about the same number of xray suites and pathology labs, I'm sure... and within a five-minute drive of our home are four Tim Horton's; I can make five if I really motor....) And on the other side of the Arrivals  doors is a kiosk selling magazines, books, snack foods, and ... now ... cut flower bouquets. I haven't noticed them before, so I'm assuming they're a new introduction to the product line. 

It seems a no-brainer. In welcoming a relative to Ontario, you're not going to say: "Welcome to Toronto, here's a Macleans magazine and package of ketchup-flavoured potato chips!" But handing them a nice bouquet – and the Terminal One flowers were exceptional; indeed the carnations lasted well over two weeks – will always be warmly received. Hopefully, the flowers are locally grown.

Do all airport Arrivals areas have fresh cut flower bouquets? If they don't, they should. Do all convenience stores sell potted plants or bouquets? If they don't they should. The question for our industry is, who is going to spread the news and encourage more retailers to join the plant bandwagon.

If you sell plants, consumers will come. And they'll buy. So, how do we get more retailers to sell plants?

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